The Art Of Listening

The first thing to get your head round as a marketer is that no-one goes onto Facebook to see what Facebook has to say, as they might with ninemsn. They log-in to share and talk about whatever they choose. So plugging your ads into the cracks between the content is out. Ads do work in Facebook but that’s not the point. The real prize is how can I get involved in those conversations everyone is having, and get them to talk about me?!

So imagine you’re at a social gathering and you see a group of people chatting animatedly. You’d love to join in but you don’t know anyone in the group. Try barging in, interrupting the conversation and launching into a fascinating (to you) account of what you got up to at the weekend. You’ll be received like a bad smell! Try, on the other hand to sidle over, listen, laugh at their jokes, volunteer a comment when you have something useful, interesting, amusing and above all relevant to add, and you’ll be welcomed.

Social media is that group at the social gathering, and that’s why it’s so different. We can’t just push our messages like we can through other media. We have to be good at listening. Really, really good! Half the SM specialists out there specialise in social media monitoring, because there’s so much to learn and so many opportunities to connect with your market if you respect the rules.

So why do brands monitor social media?:

  • Customer Service & Feedback – platforms like Twitter in particular are hotbeds of discussion about service. It’s the immediacy of it. I’m not happy right now this minute so I’m going to vent on Twitter – too easy! Pick this up and deal with it quickly and properly and your brand earns a credit.
  • Brand awareness and image – watch out for the negative groups, e.g. QLD Flood Appeal – naming and shaming insurance companies who won’t cover flood victims.
  • Campaign/event analysis – track comments about your campaigns – are people picking up your taglines, do they find your ads funny, interesting, irrelevant?
  • Sales opportunities – people constantly ask for recommendations from other users – if you can track these your answer will be considered as relevant
  • Content analysis – we’re all busy trying to put out as much relevant content as we dare. Social Media is often the first place you’ll know whether it’s hitting the mark or not.

There are more reasons to listen and many ways to do it. And of course it’s only the first step. Once you’re involved, you can in time earn the right to control the conversation. Rewarding but challenging. Challenging because even if you’ve earned the right to talk, you’re subject to greater restrictions that your fans or connections.

That’s where the social gathering analogy falls down. You can’t tell tall stories which might mislead your market because you’re an advertiser. If you do you’ll have the Advertising Standards Board to answer to. (The ASB have just made a ruling that their regulations now apply to comments on brands’ social media sites).

So it pays to learn not only how to listen, respond and drive conversations, but also how to avoid breaking the law! Find out how to quickly understand best practice approaches for managing your social media marketing but also understand the rules surrounding it, sign up for ADMA’s Social Media Marketing Strategy course in Sydney on August 21st.